Roger Kay has written an article for Forbes discussing ICANN’s auction for gTLDs and the range of potential consequences.
Kay likens the gTLD auction to a “land grab”, since it is “worth some serious coin”. It is suggested that opening up the availability of new top-level domain names so widely will result in an increase in domain parking by companies who wish to protect their corporate or brand identity, to protect against cybersquatters, or to generate income from their “virtual real estate”.
Several “land grabs” are being considered, for example:
- Amazon has caused controversy by applying for .book, .author and .read – if ICANN approves these applications anyone wanting to publish a book using, for example, the .book gTLD, they will have to rent it from Amazon. Amazon has also applied for .movie, .app, and .wow, amongst others, which is likely to spark objections from high profile movie companies and, with regard to the .app gTLD, Apple.
- In addition to its application for .microsoft, Microsoft has applied for .docs, .live, .office, .windows, and several others.
- Charleston Road Registry Inc., owned by Google, has applied for 101 new gTLDs, including .goog, .google, .youtube, and .store, indicating that Google is making applications by proxy. It is noted that, despite costs of more than $20,000,000 to set up and maintain these new gTLDs, Google will be able to generate far more income from the use of the gTLDs over the course of several years.
The location of ICANN in Los Angeles has also been the subject of debate, with many outside the United States criticising ICANN for being geographically biased. Kay notes that such bias is important because of the high marketing value of domain names, and, as he points out: “Just ask the folks at sex.com, who reportedly bid $14 million for the domain in 2006.” It has been suggested that ICANN may simply be using the auction as a way to generate income.